Freedom of Information, in 140 characters or less

August 8, 2011

For long-suffering Freedom of Information officers, something else to worry about:  the Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed that people can use Twitter to submit freedom of information requests.  Although acknowledging that Twitter is ‘not the most effective channel’ for FOI requests, the ICO says that ‘this does not mean that such requests are necessarily invalid.’ @mention (a Twitter message that contains the public authority’s user name anywhere in the Tweet) will also be considered a valid request, because these will be available to the authority on its homepage.

There are some provisos: for a FOI request to be valid, a requester must give their real name (or link to their real name in their profile).  The request must include an address ‘for correspondence’.  The ICO does not directly answer its own question ‘does this include Twitter names?’  However, public authorities are advised to ask for an email address or publish the answer on their web site, in order to respond fully.

A copy of the ICO’s July 2011 newsletter can be found at

The Editor thanks Marion Oswald of the University of Winchester for providing this snippet.

The Editor thanks